AORUS K1 Review
Since GIGABYTE introduced their AORUS brand, it has been synonymous with premium gaming products ranging from gaming laptops to graphics cards, and everything in between. This brings us to AORUS‘ latest gaming keyboard, the AORUS K1 — a ‘Punk Gaming‘ mechanical gaming keyboard featuring the ever reliable Cherry MX Red switches, full anti-ghosting, and vivid per-key RGB backlighting that is worthy of the AORUS name.
What seems to be an emerging trend in gaming, the punk movement is back! And the AORUS K1 is no exception. GIGABYTE has taken a modest approach with the AORUS K1 — sleek, dark and futuristic. These factors combine perfectly to allow the keyboard to shine from the shadows, rather than RGB illumination being the defining factor.
The AORUS K1 design features a clean, slimline form factor that incorporates subtle touches such as stylized vents, and a mix of matte black plastics that elegantly combine for a futuristic approach. When you first pick up the K1, there is no doubt about its build quality; it is solid! The K1 is heavy, weighing in at 1125g but despite this, its construction is unparalleled and durable; one that could be mistaken for a metal finish.
These subtle touches above, were rather impressive, especially how GIGABYTE engraved the AORUS slogan “Team Up. Fight On.” on the body of the keyboard. This combines nicely with the AORUS branding logo being the only branding present on the K1.
The standard 104 key configuration keycap design allows for colours to emit with a soft glow, something that can be appreciated, especially when in a low light environment. On full brightness the illumination is on the lower side, something to note if RGB is high on your list.
Cable management is becoming more predominant as keyboards continue to evolve. GIGABYTE have delivered here with three routing options on the base of the K1. This allows the 2-meter soft touch braided USB cable to be routed clear of any other peripherals on your desk. In addition, the headphone cable channels (left and right) at the base of the K1 allow for a clean run under the keyboard — A simple solution that I would love to see more widely adopted amongst other manufacturers.
The Cherry MX Red switches are a highlight of the AORUS K1 — Not only are they one of the best performing switches on the market, but are surprisingly quiet as far as mechanical switches go. This means that they are not only excellent for streamers or people in shared environments, but also for gamers who want performance.
The Cherry MX Red switches have an actuation distance of 2mm, 4mm to the bottom and rated for 100 million presses. A low actuation force of 45 cN combined with the actuation distance, is the primary reason Cherry MX Red switches are a popular choice for gamers, especially when you consider that these switches provide less audible feedback when compared with the Cherry MX brown or blue.
Taking the K1 for its first run with my current staples of Overwatch, VALORANT and DOOM Eternal, I initially found the height and proximity of the keys a bit disorientating. But after an hour of use, my existing muscle memory faded, the K1 started to deliver and I could finally see why GIGABYTE holds the K1 in such high regard — Keystrokes were delivered fast, accurately and with minimal resistance throughout matches.
The solid construction coupled with the K1’s rubber feet do a great job restricting the K1 from moving (at all!), this helps provide reliable and accurate keystroke feedback. But one comfort aspect I could not adjust to was the lack of wrist rest. Unfortunately, GIGABYTE opted to not include a wrist rest for the K1 and while this is ultimately down to personal preference, I feel the vast majority of gamers will share my opinion.
GIGABYTE have done an excellent job keeping the K1’s RRP price down ($139AUD), but I am sure the majority of gamers (myself included) would have been happy to pay a bit more to include a wrist rest as the K1 does feel and perform like a premium keyboard, despite its price.
The K1 also features Anti-Ghosting across all areas of the keyboard, this ensures that no keystrokes are lost due to the inability to process simultaneous signals — An advantage in some cases as no one wants to lose a keystroke!
Multimedia and backlight functions are controlled via 22 function keys, activated by the ‘Fn’ key. While this did take getting used to, it was manageable and another reason why GIGABYTE have been able to keep the RRP down. These dual-purpose function keys have the function printed on the keycap itself to help with media and light control — I did find myself searching mid game to adjust volume at times, but once you become familiar with the location of these function keys, then it quickly becomes second nature.
One of the best aspects of this dual function is that you can bypass any software configuration, meaning RGB FUSION 2.0 doesn’t need to be installed for this function to work. Meaning you can use multimedia and backlight functions as soon as you plug the K1 into your PC!
No Macro. No Problem.
The AORUS K1 has no dedicated macro keys, which is quite common at this price point. No need to worry though, GIGABYTE has you covered — Every key on the K1 can be reprogrammed as a macro through the AORUS Engine software. Other useful options within the software include macro execute mode and the ability to record and delay time variables. The K1 also features on-board memory, which provides saving these macros and other options directly to the device itself, which is always a nice option.
RGB FUSION 2.0
RGB FUSION 2.0 has it’s challenges, but I generally avoid setting dynamic RGB illumination on my keyboards and usually stick with a static colour scheme (call me boring and old fashioned, if you will). Despite this, I still explored the vast options RGB FUSION 2.0 has to offer including support for single click synchronizing with other AORUS devices, which I was actually really impressed with. RGB FUSION 2.0 also allows users to explore every one of the 16.7M customisable colour options on offer, including effects such as Wave, Ripple, Cycle and Reactive.
- PERFORMANCE - 80%80%
- QUALITY - 81%81%
- DESIGN - 83%83%
- VALUE - 80%80%
GIGABYTE have combined exceptional build quality, features and a proven gaming switch into a great overall product that performs well above its $139 AUD price tag.
I appreciate how the K1 has complimented my gaming setup by not overstating itself. Its Neonpunk design is a win in my books and will please serious and casual gamers alike — The AORUS K1 provides all the essentials for a satisfying win.
The AORUS K1 will be on sale in Australia within the coming weeks.
For more on GIGABYTE, check out our previous coverage.